Ignorance of Law Is No Defence

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TOPIC: THE MAXIM IGNORANCE OF THE LAW IS NO DEFENCE, SHOULD NOT BE PART OF THE GHANA LEGAL SYSTEM SINCE MANY OF THE PEOPLE LIVING IN THE RURAL AREAS ARE ILLETREATES. IGNORANCE OF THE LAW IS NO DEFENSE

This maxim can also be translated as ignorance of the law is no excuse. When one is found guilty of a crime the accused tends to hold unto the saying that he did not know that what he did is unlawful thereby ignoring that fact that ignorance of the law is no excuse or defense. This maxim can be seen in the case of Foli v the state(1968) GLR768. In this case, the appellants’ made a contention that they didn’t give the deceased, Abla Eworho, a befitting burial (proper burial) because the deceased violated a custom while she was alive to which she was fully aware; that she must be purified before her death occurred, and that in respect to the tradition or custom, of which she knew about, that her corpse would be burned. Due to this occurrence, the appellants were charged before the court for causing harm to the corpse they had cremated contrary to section53(1) of cap.80. The deceased’s head of family and the paramount chief of her locality, the first appellant’ further defence was that they were acting genuinely in accordance to the accepted custom by cremating the copse and had no idea that they were breaking or going against any law of the land. On their conviction, they appealed to the High court.

In this case we can clearly see that the appellants didn’t know that what they had believed to be a custom or tradition to them was actually unlawful and this was because they are based in the rural area where the knowledge of what the law says is limited. We can also see the case of Nyameneba v the state (1965) GLR723 which saw the maxim ignorance of the fact favouring the appellants on this case. In this case, the appellant’s who were members of a religious sect of Princess Town in Western Region, who have been growing “herbs of life” for four years or...
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